Neil Diamond health: ‘I’m in denial’ – the star unable to accept debilitating diagnosis

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Shocking his loyal fans the singer made the announcement that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease on his 50th Year Anniversary World Tour. The condition, which currently has no cure, is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Despite his diagnosis the star said that he was “doing pretty well”.

Although being in seemingly good health, the singer said: “It does have its challenges, but I’m feeling good and I feel very positive about it. I’m feeling better every day. [I’m] just dealing with it as best I can, and just keep the music coming.

“I take my meds. I do my workouts. I’m in pretty good shape. I’m feeling good. I want to stay productive, I just can’t do the traveling that I once did, but I have my wife there supporting me (and) friends.”

In a rare appearance the star took to stage in Las Vegas at a gala where he was being honoured.

Retirement or his illness has not stopped the singer from doing what he does best as he also revealed to Parade that he is always jotting down song ideas.

In fact he even states that the condition may have made his voice better.

The singer said: “In a strange way, I think I’m singing better than ever. It’s probably because I’m not on the road singing full-out and tearing up my voice. So it’s in very good shape, which I didn’t expect.”

In terms of the emotional impact of the disease he added: “I don’t deal with it. I think I’m in denial or something. I feel fine. And it’s music—I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. I don’t tense up when I get in front of a microphone. That’s when I loosen up and let it all hang out.

“I didn’t think I would make it this far. It’s a lot of years, but I have to accept it. So I’m going to accept it.

“I know I’m lucky to reach this point. Maybe I’ll write some new songs about it. I’m just happy to be around.”

As Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, The Mayo Clinic states that in the early stages your face may show little or no expression.

Speech is often a little slurred or arms may not swing when you walk but symptoms on the whole can go unnoticed.

When symptoms begin to get worse they usually start on one side of the body and remain on that side.

The most common symptoms of the condition include the following:

  • Tremor. A tremor, or shaking, usually begins in a limb, often your hand or fingers. You may rub your thumb and forefinger back and forth, known as a pill-rolling tremor. Your hand may tremble when it’s at rest.
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia). Over time, Parkinson’s disease may slow your movement, making simple tasks difficult and time-consuming. Your steps may become shorter when you walk. It may be difficult to get out of a chair. You may drag your feet as you try to walk.
  • Rigid muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur in any part of your body. The stiff muscles can be painful and limit your range of motion.
  • Impaired posture and balance. Your posture may become stooped, or you may have balance problems as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Loss of automatic movements. You may have a decreased ability to perform unconscious movements, including blinking, smiling or swinging your arms when you walk.
  • Speech changes. You may speak softly, quickly, slur or hesitate before talking. Your speech may be more of a monotone rather than have the usual inflections.
  • Writing changes. It may become hard to write, and your writing may appear small.

The symptoms occur because certain nerve cells in the brain gradually break down or die. Due to a loss of these nerves there is also a lack of a chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine.

It is this lack of chemical that then causes symptoms. Factors such as genes and environmental triggers can also make individuals more susceptible to the condition.

Parkinson’s disease is often accompanied by these additional problems:

  • Thinking difficulties. You may experience cognitive problems (dementia) and thinking difficulties. These usually occur in the later stages of Parkinson’s disease. Such cognitive problems aren’t very responsive to medications.
  • Depression and emotional changes. You may experience depression, sometimes in the very early stages. Receiving treatment for depression can make it easier to handle the other challenges of Parkinson’s disease.You may also experience other emotional changes, such as fear, anxiety or loss of motivation. Doctors may give you medications to treat these symptoms.
  • Swallowing problems. You may develop difficulties with swallowing as your condition progresses. Saliva may accumulate in your mouth due to slowed swallowing, leading to drooling.
  • Chewing and eating problems. Late-stage Parkinson’s disease affects the muscles in your mouth, making chewing difficult. This can lead to choking and poor nutrition.
  • Sleep problems and sleep disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease often have sleep problems, including waking up frequently throughout the night, waking up early or falling asleep during the day.People may also experience rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, which involves acting out your dreams. Medications may help your sleep problems.
  • Bladder problems. Parkinson’s disease may cause bladder problems, including being unable to control urine or having difficulty urinating.
  • Constipation. Many people with Parkinson’s disease develop constipation, mainly due to a slower digestive tract.

Although Parkinson’s disease can’t be cured, medications may significantly improve your symptoms. Occasionally, your doctor may suggest surgery to regulate certain regions of your brain and improve your symptoms.

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